The Election

Don’t worry, it’s almost over. November 8 is only days away.

I don’t know about you, but one of my hopes is that once election day comes and goes, once the ballots have been cast and we’re wherever we end up as a nation, I pray that so many of the friendships I’ve seen dissolve in a single season—as though the collections of years full of season after season of loving kindness, togetherness, like-minded service to and for each other, and all of the other things that make for fellowship in Christ didn’t matter at all—my prayer is that those friendships will be restored, that they will be seen for what they are in Jesus and His love for us.

It would seem that we live in a day and age where dialogue is dead and opinions driven by emotions have now risen to a seat of prominence well above the Christian truth that “love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things…” (1 Corinthians 13:7).

It would seem to be this is all we should expect right now. But it isn’t. The Spirit creates the hopeful and enduring love Saint Paul is describing. And the Holy Spirit has been promised to the Church by Christ and is at work to do it. With that, there is always humility—the ability to confess offenses and seek forgiveness. There is always the willingness to pursue reconciliation and the hopeful anticipation that others—if they claim Christ, as well, will seek to be together again, too. It may not happen today. It might not happen tomorrow. But it will happen. It has to. If it doesn’t, then, well, you know why. I don’t need to explain it. But when it does, you also know why. Because the Holy Spirit is at work in believers who have differing opinions—and yet, they are people moved to live as they believe—which means they are people who actually take seriously the words “do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26) and are quick to see that broken relationships are restored. Why? Because by faith they are already mindful of the relationship restored between God and men by the Savior, Jesus Christ—and that brokenness was far more than a difference of opinion. In sin we are at enmity with God. We are enemies who would rather see Him dead than be called His friends. And yet: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:8-10).

So, again, don’t worry. All of those folks who unfriended you on Facebook, those folks who deleted you from their mobile phone contacts list, those friends and relatives who’ve said, in anger, that they want nothing else to do with you, well, if you are willing to humbly pursue reconciliation through faith in Christ, and they are too, then all will be well. God promises peace and every blessing in this. If it doesn’t happen right away, don’t worry. Continue to put your trust in the Lord and give a faithful witness to the Gospel. All will be well. Even if it doesn’t find repair, all will be well. God’s will, holy and perfect, will be accomplished. You’ll see.

No Gimmicks

The Lord loves you. And most certainly is the Time of Christmas an opportunity to understand the extent to which our gracious God would go to show His love.

I am starting this week’s message with this emphasis so that you will consider two things.

First, Christmas is a time when folks are more inclined to attend church somewhere. Personal barriers come down and the general friendliness of the season will often overpower the personal hesitation to be in a context that they would normally avoid. Also, these same people will most likely only attempt such a venture because they have been invited by someone they know. In other words, someone actually said to them, “Hey, it’s Christmas Eve, how about going to church with me tonight?”

Second, I’m sure you know someone who would consider joining you for worship—if you would only ask them. The Thoma family has their eyes set upon a particular neighbor family…and we are going to hit the “go” button on the effort this weekend.

Believe it or not, in the history of the world, this is how 99% of the church’s evangelism really has occurred. Not through gimmicky programs. Not through entertainment. Not through hipster efforts to seem relevant. The church is as it is because the Holy Spirit is at work through the Gospel which simultaneously moves you, the believer, to reach out to others in the very real grit and grime of everyday life. Christmas just so happens to be a time when, contextually, the hardness of the human shell may be a bit more fragile and the task may be a little easier.

Think about it. Pray about. Maybe give it a try. You may be surprised.